If you read the EXAIR blog you may have noticed that a few of my recent posts have involved being an assistant coach for my son’s youth football team. We finished our regular season schedule with a 9-1 record which earned us the #2 seed for the playoffs and a 1st round bye. Pretty good for a first year team with only 3 kids who have played before and 14 newcomers.
Our school district had several K5 and 1st graders sign up for youth football this year so we needed to have 2 teams – our squad was Milford Team White and the other was Milford Team Red. As fate would have it, the Red team won their first round game and would be our semi-final game opponent. A lot of our players go to school and our friends with kids on the other team, which created a bit of angst as they didn’t want to lose to them and, as one player said, “hear about it all week at school”. On the other hand, a few of them didn’t want to beat them because they knew it would end their friend’s season. As coaches we had to convince these little guys that it’s ok to be buddies but for 32 minutes (game time) they need to be focused on why we are here because their friends on other team are going to do everything they can to send us home.
Game day arrived and we assembled our team for check ins and warm ups. After our allotted 30 minutes warm up time we took to mid-field where we won the coin toss and elected to start the game on offense. We have had some issues during the year with our center to quarterback exchange so we had worked on that all week in practice, though apparently not enough. The first snap dropped to the ground and the other team jumped on the ball. Our defense was able to stop them from gaining 10 yards so we got the ball back on downs and our offense stepped to the line for our second series. Once again we dropped the snap but were able to recover the ball, so we called a timeout to calm our guys down and get them refocused. Facing a 2nd and 10, we cleanly snapped the ball and handed it off to our running back who raced down the sideline for the game’s first TD. We converted the 2-point conversion and secured a lead at 8-0.
Our excitement was short lived as the other team was able to break through themselves and score their first TD but were unable to score the 2-point conversion. Holding a 2 point lead at 8-6 with only 2 minutes left before halftime, our QB/center exchange issue again reared it’s ugly head and we fumbled the ball away to the opposing team. With time running out in the first half, they were able to navigate their way down the field and score another TD and this time the conversion to hold a 14-8 advantage at halftime. We headed to the sideline to regroup and reenergize our boys for the second half.
In the second half the opponents recognized our snap issues and they started to blitz on every defensive play. Their plan worked and in the second half we were only able to complete 2 “clean” snaps. Our defense held strong but with us not being able to move the ball on offense, we ended up losing the game by a final score of 14-8.
It was hard to see our kids so disappointed about losing but that’s part of playing a sport. There has to be a winner and a loser and at the end of a season, there is only 1 team that is truly happy. For me personally, I was bummed that it’s over but as a coach, I couldn’t be more proud of these little guys. Many have never played ANY type of organized sport and they gave it their all and have grown so much in the last few months. To finish the season with a 9-1 record and 3rd place overall is a victory for any 1st year team and coaches. This has been one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am truly going to miss it. So until next year, WAR EAGLE and good luck to Milford Team Red, bring home that championship trophy!